How to Remove Trapped Air Bubbles Underneath a Car Windshield Sticker or Decal
Question: I stuck a decal to the inside of the window of my business, and it has lots of little bubbles underneath the sticker. What can I do to get rid of the bubbles?
Answer: Well, there are a couple of questions I have. Is it an face adhesive decal or a face-adhering static cling sticker? There will be different answers for each of these items.
If it is a static cling sticker, you can remove it, wet it with lightly soapy water, re-stick it to the glass, and the water will evaporate out over the next day or two. We find that with static cling decals, often the decal will relax into the glass in two or three days and most of the bubbles will automatically disappear.
You can also dip a vinyl adhesive sticker into lightly soapy water or spray the surface of the glass with the same and then lay the sticker on the glass and allow the liquid to evaporate, but it sounds like it may be too late for this sticker at this point. What we would do would be to use an exacto knife with a 60 degree blade to pop the bubbles individually. This is tedious, but it’s the only way I know of to remedy the issue without completely getting rid of the offending sticker and replacing it with an identical one.
This brings up a topic which I have addressed in the past, but it’s been awhile, and that is that of decals and stickers that you hand out to clients or member stores or restaurants, and the concerns many of those establishment owners have about adhesive decals.
The standard vinyl sticker uses an acrylic adhesive which is permanent, or at least semi-permanent, which simply means it’s difficult to remove. This can be a good thing, as you don’t want someone peeling it off your car window or store window, at least not until you want to remove it. One feature of acrylic adhesives is that over time, they sort of solidify, or get hard. That basically means that the stickers with this type adhesive become difficult to remove.
With acrylic adhesives, it takes about two to three days for acrylic adhesives to fully “purchase,” or bind to whatever object you have adhered it to, but then continues to purchase even more over time.
So, the solution to this, where you want a more temporary solution or don’t want to remove your car or store window to remove the decal (mind you, that is just a bit tongue in cheek), there are a couple of options, although the typical maximum application for either is one to two years, although one might get three years.
The first solution would be a removable acrylic adhesive sticker, which can be applied to vinyl or polypropylene sticker stock by the manufacturer, and the removability range is from six months to three years. At this time, screen printing vinyl decal materials are less flexible on that time range than some of the newer digital media, but the sticker business changes with the times and demands, so I think that will change.
The drawback to removable adhesive is that over time, like with permanent acrylic adhesives, it will harden and become permanent. So, if you want a sticker to be temporary, it would be important for your vendor to know how long these decals would be expected to be adhered to the glass. For a semi-temporary solution, these types of stickers are recommended.
The other option, mentioned earlier, is static cling decal material, and is a vinyl with added plasticizers (softeners) that enable it to “cling” to glass or other super-smooth surfaces (such as acrylic or non-porous glossy painted surfaces) without the use of adhesives. While these can be moved, we don’t recommend moving it after the first couple of weeks as the plasticizers migrate out of the material over time, but a static cling, left alone, could last up to two years, sometimes longer. For a temporary solution, this is our recommendation, as there is not glue residue left around the edges, and they are quite simple and easy to remove.
For removable decals and/or easy to remove stickers, check this page https://www.visigraph.com/custom-decals-stickers-magnets-and-labels/removable-stickers-and-decals/